THE beautiful American girl invited me to her home for dinner. Her brother and her school chum, who seemed much interested in each other, made four of us at the table. We had not much of a chance to get acquainted. We had hardly finished dinner when my friend was called to the telephone. She returned somewhat disturbed. "I'll have to rush off immediately," she said, "I received a hurry call. Do you want to come along?"
We all rode down together in the swiftly moving subway train. The brother and the girl left us on the way. They went to the theatre.
When I was alone with the girl she told me that the telephone call came from a woman who used to work for her mother. She had called for help. A neighbor's baby was ill and badly in need of a doctor. My friend had already left word for her doctor to join us at the bedside of the sick child.
After we emerged from the subway we walked a considerable distance along streets lined with carts. Vegetables, fruits, clothing, curtains -- everything that we buy in co-operative stores at home -- were displayed in the narrow streets crowded with people.
"Here we are," she said finally, and I followed her into an alley and up a flight of stairs. The stench in the dark hallway was sickening. She knocked on a door, a woman appeared. "Oh, Miss, you're an angel to come so quickly. I didn't know who to turn to," she said. "I've called and called the Relief for a doctor. You know what they told me? To stop bothering them. Of all things!" We walked inside. Another woman lay on a cot with a baby and children played about the bare floor. The woman who met us at the door continued indignantly: "They said that this is not the only baby in the world! The doctor will come when he gets around to it! The baby ain't eat nothing for two days -- can't hold a thing on its stomach -- looks like a skeleton. Are they waiting till he dies before they come?"
My friend's doctor arrived and examined the baby and wrote out a prescription. On his way out he said to us: "I don't see much that I can do. A well nourished child would have a chance but its life is just hanging by a thread."
"Sure," exclaimed the woman bitterly. "This ain't no Lindbergh baby! No one is going to be tried for its murder! So what do they care! That's the way they treat us poor folks. They think we're just so much dirt under their feet. . .